Whether we agree with them or not, they are coming. As the City of Dearborn, Mich., braces for national media attention as Terry Jones and his followers plan a protest outside an Islamic Center, the City of Dearborn is responding well, by denying a permit but providing a place to speak. For the City of Dearborn, the best strategy is to let Jones speak and protect everyone from getting hurt. At the same time, the City should also allow the Muslim American community a place to also speak and congregate if they want.
Mayor O'Reilly is doing the right thing. He is talking to the media at a local and national level in setting the record straight and dispelling any myths that may be out in the blogosphere. O'Reilly should also take his case straight to bloggers, tweeters and others, perhaps through a video posted on YouTube. If Domino's did it after their crisis and BP did it after theres, it is better to be proactive in this circumstance and make sure your messages are being heard over others. While the situations are different, the strategy should be to be proactive and available.
For the Muslim American community, the best response is a quiet response. In potentially hostile situations such as this, where one group expresses such a radical view, it is best not to add fuel to their fire. As a result, their response should be strategic and focused, working through traditional and social media channels to educate the general public and engage their base of support on this issue. Just as Jones may turn to social media, so too should the Muslim American Community with video's on YouTube and Google, iReports (CNN), Tweets, Blogs and Facebook updates.
For other religious and ethnic groups, this presents the perfect opportunity to build goodwill to show outrage to Jones and his tactics.
But in situations like this, it is important that the facts speak larger than the actions and that no further action makes this a larger story than it needs to be. Being prepared, having a plan and the relationships with key reporters and bloggers as well as remaining accessible is the best way to make sure this story does not become larger than it needs to be.